Gauteng premier David Makhura talks tough on foreigners

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has said foreign states need to be held responsible for their citizens actions in South Africa.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura has said foreign states need to be held responsible for their citizens actions in South Africa.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The South African government should start billing foreign countries whose citizens pop into the country to take advantage of free services.

The foreign countries should also be sent invoices if their citizens are caught running criminal syndicates. These were the sentiments expressed by Gauteng premier David Makhura during the provincial 2019/2020 budget breakfast meeting held in Illovo, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

"I think there is a degree in which we need to have a conversation with our SADEC (Southern African Development Community) counterparts. There are countries that must pay for their citizens to use our health services. Those countries must pay. Some of these countries are just running as if they are not governments. Think of Lesotho… Swaziland (Eswatini)… Zimbabwe and Mozambique. We've governments there but their citizens get almost everything from South Africa. If someone is ill and arrives at a hospital, which is [an institution] about saving lives, you cannot turn them back and say just because they are Zimbabweans [they shouldn't be treated).

"The nature of health institutions and services is to save lives. We must go to the government of Zimbabwe and say we've treated so many citizens of your country in our facilities because you are not providing [them with these services and you must pay back the money we've spent on treating them]. We must collect this money from these governments," he said.

Makhura, who emphasised that he was not being xenophobic, added he has discovered that there were certain types of criminal activities that were being perpetrated by certain foreign nationals.

"I think some specific crimes [are committed] by some specific nationalities or foreign nationals are involved. Drugs, there's specific nationalities involved. Violent crimes and murders, including cash-in-transit heists, there is specific nationalities involved. To say this is not to make a particular nationality a problem," he said.

Makhura said the police often found Nigerians to be involved in drugs, adding that this doesn't mean that Nigerians were in general involved in the drug trade.

"But we must ask a question: how do we have so many drug dens that are operated by Nigerians in our country? How does this happen? We've got to solve that problem and also we've to make it a problem with Nigeria [and say], 'too many of your citizens are involved in this type of crime in our country, it is not xenophobic. We should work with that government and say your citizens are free to come to our country but they contribute to a particular area of crime…" he said.

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